Women's History Month Event Recognizes RU-N's Every Day "Sheroes"
The annual Women’s History Month event at RU-N has always included a way to honor staff, faculty, students, and others whose hard work and achievements have not been publicly acknowledged.
That’s why the event is titled “No More Hidden Figures: Honoring the SHEROES Among Us.’’
The theme hasn't changed since the event began in 2018, inspired, in part, by the biopic about Black women mathematicians who worked at NASA in 1961 and were little-known before the movie was released.
“Whoever is chosen and selected, they’ve never been recognized for the wonderful work they’ve been doing all along,’’ said Lori Scott Pickens, director of outreach for the School of Criminal Justice and a co-chair of RU-N’s Women’s History Month committee.
For RU-N’s 75th anniversary, the event will honor “campus trailblazers,’’ including women who worked at RU-N decades ago and those who are here now.
The March 30 virtual event features former RU-N Vice Chancellor Marcia Brown as keynote speaker and a student discussion panel moderated by Honors Living Learning Community Associate Dean Marta Esquilin. Register here to attend. (https://go.rutgers.edu/WHM_Registration).
Among the honorees, who are announced at the event, will be a faculty member, staffer, student and member of the Newark community. There will also be a donation drive for feminine hygeine products and essential toiletries that will be given to local schools. The items can be dropped off at 110 Warren Street, Room 110, Rutgers Business School, Room 324, and the lobby of Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) at 200 University Avenue.
The history month committee, originally comprised of one woman from each school and department on campus--a total of about 40—so that a broad spectrum was represented. Current advisors are Executive Vice -Chancellor Sherri-Ann Butterfield, Assistant Chancellor Diane Hill, and Vice-Chancellor Shante Palmer. The committee chooses the award winners from a list of nominees, with special attention to those who might otherwise be overlooked.
“Before COVID, when we were on campus, everyone recognized this woman who worked for facilities. We saw her doing landscaping, shoveling snow. Everyone knew who she was, but most of us didn’t know her name,’’ Pickens recalled. “She was doing work that everyone takes for granted.’’ The employee and honoree was Melissa Dones, who is no longer a staff member at RU-N but is graduate student in the School of Social Work.
At the event, historical figures, including those with Rutgers ties, like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who taught at RU-N, and more well-known figures, are also recognized. Among the honorees are actress Hedy Lamarr, who helped develop a World War II radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes. The principles of her work were incorporated into Bluetooth and GPS technology.
“Every year we have a photo display of women throughout history,’’ said Pickens.
Past commitee leaders have included Brown, as founder and co-chair, with Ivette Ortiz Beaumont, of the Office of University and Community Partnerships, succeeding her. Shanida Carter of the Office of Communications, who also served as co-chair, along with Pickens.
Since last year, a trio of co-chairs have included Elsa Alves, of the Dana Library, Ginny Caputo, of Rutgers Law School, and Lt. Jamie Hendrix of the RUPD.
"They ensured the event did not die and brought us to a successful event in Covid,'' said Pickens. "They did double duty to get us through this year.''